Sunday, 29 July 2007

The Best a Man Can Get

Facebook, the social network that is this years Myspace (without the music-industry crushing low-fi next big things), has been in the news a lot for the last couple of weeks. Mainly because of the impending deadline for a lawsuit to be raised against its founder – touted as the next big Web 2.0 billionaire – by a group of old Harvardonion buddies who claim that he took their idea for a Harvardfacebook social network site etc and so on.

For Monkey Pipe, the site was fun while I wiled away some hours alone in a temp-job office. Part of the fun in the site is, like Friendsreunited, seeing what people that you neither wanted to or made any effort to keep in touch with are doing now – or, more realistically, making sure that you’re doing better than the rest of them. This week though, the site took a dark turn and left me feeling…Tragically Greek.

The social networking is one aspect – you can write on walls, send messages and all those things that email enable you to do, but in a ‘look at my wit, damn you all!’ way that private correspondence doesn’t allow. There is also the application side of things. Want to be a zombie? You got it. Want everyone to know how well read you’d like them to think you are? Here’s the ‘What I’m Reading” app! Some folk must see these as pannini-sticker album-esque collectables; their MyFaceReunited isn’t complete without every possible add on.

Then there is the Groups thing. I played around with this, setting up a stupid group of no discernable worth to see how easy it was – very easy, is the answer. Perhaps too easy. Now there are groups available for everyone. Which leads to the moment of darkness for me.

On Facebook you build up a network of friends, spreading out web like, picking up new folk along the way, and generally keeping in touch with the whole world. As you log on to your page, you are told what those people you have marked as friends are up to at the moment in brief snippets along the lines of “…has joined….” Or “…is now a monkey and wants you to be a monkey too” – spreading applications and groups and networks ever further out. I logged onto my page and was confronted with the notice that my sister was now a member of a group called “The Shaved Pussy Appreciation Society”. A notice that has not only put me off Facebook, revealing it’s true intention – namely the further breakdown of social constraint and hope of privacy – but pretty much put me off the internet for a solid week or two.

It was also a week that saw me lose patience and love with football. A game that for several years I have managed to keep up an interest in that was near fanatical, minus the actual going to games etc. I spoke with the assured knowledge of the greatest coach that the world was yet to discover, I played with all the skill of someone who was making up the numbers in the worst team in the country, I watched matches that contained not on iota of skill or entertainment. This week though, my working life has been filled with men so scared of talking about their feelings in anything but a footballing environment, that I couldn’t take it any more.

I’m as taciturn and closed as the next-brit, but when talk turned to how much better someone’s life was because they had picked a great fantasy football team, I couldn’t take anymore. It’s quite an easy process to let my team go. I had picked a team a hundred miles away from where I was from (ironically the team I picked was chosen because I couldn’t stomach the fans of the local team – racist bullies to a man – but have read several stories about how nasty the fans of this chosen team are this week) and who weren’t very good. So they are no longer in my life.

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